Howard County Sheriff Won't Pay for Ambulance

7 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, December 02 2010 Dec 2, 2010 Thursday, December 02, 2010 9:54:00 PM CST December 02, 2010 in News
FAYETTE- The Howard County Ambulance District is suing the Howard County Commission for $1,400 after a year of negotiations.  The ambulance service transported a prisoner to Cooper County Hospital in July, 2009.  The sheriff is refusing to pay the bill because the man was under the jurisdiction of the Fayette Police Department. 

If an inmate at the jail has a medical problem, the commission is responsible for the bill.  In this case, Edward Dodson was held at the jail under order from the Fayette Police Department.  Under Missouri law, the sheriff may refuse to admit a prisoner if he is in medical danger.  After Dodson complained of chest pains, he was released and taken by an ambulance to Cooper County Hospital.

Charlie Polson is the sheriff of Howard County. He says the issue is the custody of the prisoner.  "We take in people from the city every day, but there is a window where they haven't been charged and there's no warrant," Polson said.  "I have no order from a judge and most of the time if the crime is not that big, they will just say let him go and then send him a ticket in the mail."

A district ordinance requires pickups from holding facilities to be billed to the jail. Ambulance district director Frank Flaspohler said the rule is simple. "We have to bill everyone the same, its' the law."

The case is not without precedent. In 2008, the sheriff refused to pay a similar bill.  In that case, the patient/prisoner had warrants from other counties. The court decided the sheriff was obligated to pay the bill.

"It was almost an identical case, we took him out of the jail cell and took him to the hospital, the only thing that was a little bit different about this one the arresting officer was the Fayette Police Department," Flaspohler said.

The sheriff says that fact makes it a city problem. "My jailers followed proper policy and procedures, but the ambulance has a separate little ordinance that they created themselves that they want to put the bill on the sheriff's department."
   

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